Candidate Shaan Lele
“I want to be someone that people can laugh around and have fun around. That’s my goal if I’m elected class officer.”
For those in a hurry:
- Shaan Lele is a candidate for Senior Class Officer. He is running on a campaign of being different, and positions himself as an outsider with his sports background. He hopes to bring more diversity to the Senior Class Council with his ability to reach out to multiple student groups.
- Lele hopes to include more student groups like service clubs into his Homecoming and spirit weeks, building events that are appealing for a broader range of students.
- Beyond Homecoming, he also hopes to do more events and even a potential second Homecoming-type event in the second semester to create a memorable last year for seniors.
- While he hasn’t begun planning for prom just yet, he hopes he can include more people in the decision making behind prom so that prom is not just for couples.
- Above all, Lele hopes he can bring his humor to everything he does as Senior Class Officer to make senior year more fun for everyone next year.
Geoffrey: What type of experience do you have with leadership? And why do you think that you’re the best candidate?
Shaan: Around eighth grade, that was when I first started getting into leadership, when I was the captain of a water polo team. Sometimes the coach wouldn’t show up to practice, and it would just be me telling my team what exercises they had to do, what they had to build on, what roles they’d be playing when we got into the tournament. When we get to tournaments, I’m the guy in the pool screaming at everyone what they’re supposed to be doing, helping my team devise strategies. I remember at least two tournaments that we actually got first place with me as the team captain. More recently, I’ve been tutoring kids online on Zoom. I feel like with tutoring, you’re the teacher, so you’re the one building authority. But you have to be really flexible, considering that it’s usually with kids in fourth grade, and they won’t understand everything right off the bat. You have to be patient with them.
G: One of the big things we ask all the candidates is, how will you gain input from your entire class? How will you reach outside that popular kids bubble? Since you’re from a sports background, do you think that will help you talk to more people?
S: Something that I see in myself that I don’t see as much in other candidates is that I talk to a wide variety of people outside of school. I have friends in band, friends on the sports teams, and friends in sort of, quote unquote, high places in leadership. So I want to try to reach out to all of these people and get their input on topics if I’m a class officer. And when it comes to class council, I want to have people from all of these backgrounds in my council. But it mainly comes down to direct messaging them and asking for input to get them on board.
G: We’ll get to class council in a bit, but a final general question. Do you believe your class has unity right now? If so, could you give some examples? If not, what changes would you make to build more unity within your class?
S: I definitely feel like it has a small sense of unity and a small sense of connection, but I know it can be improved. I’m part of a service club at Irvington called Key Club, and they tend to have a bad history with ASG. Things like that lead to broken unity, and I want to help them work together.
G: Before all that happens, you need to build a class council. So how would you recruit students for class council? How would you organize and manage the group?
S: Like I mentioned earlier, a key aspect of my class council would be making sure that the group of kids is from diverse backgrounds. I want to get people from the sports teams, I want to grab kids from band, I want to get kids who usually don’t have much input in what we do in class council. Ultimately, when you have a group that has so many views on things, it makes events that we plan such as homecoming as memorable and fun as possible for everyone.
G: I don’t know if you’ve begun thinking about it, but what ideas do you have for homecoming? Do you have any ideas for events to build that spirit within your class?
S: I don’t have a theme in mind, but I want to incorporate clubs into different homecoming events to include more people. With Key Club, I also want to see if there’s a way we could incorporate service into homecoming events. I want to sort of make service fun during homecoming enjoy our events but also help the community.
G: Now, another big part of homecoming is the class dance, but it’s usually only class council people that participate in the dance. How would you get the whole class to participate? And I guess more broadly speaking, how would you encourage school spirit in your class?
S: I definitely see only class council members at events. I want to have a prize pool to get more people on board. Say for a Halloween event, we got a certain amount of people to dress up on Halloween, then I would come to school in a maid costume, which is something that would make people laugh, but also would help with participation. I could also extend that to the class dance; I’ll do a solo dance in front of everyone or something really, really silly if we got a certain amount of people to attend the dance, but I want to make it more fun for everyone.
G: Another component to class council is benchbuilding, which was all virtual and fragmented this year. If COVID and distance learning resume, how would you carry out bench voting? And if it were back in person, what improvements would you make to the process?
S: In general, the biggest thing that I noticed is that benchbuilding meetings need more organization. With virtual bench, I want to have a centralized chart of the different things that we want to build, and I want people to sign up for those individual parts to get materials for. If we were to do it in-person, I have this plan for people signing up, then being put into random groups to build sections of our final product. What we don’t want is people splitting into their own friend groups and leaving other people out. I want to do things like ice breakers at the benchbuilding events while we’re working on projects so that people get to know each other.
G: Hopefully you guys can do it in person, because at least for us seniors, we couldn’t. Now in terms of class events, typically, they end after homecoming. Do you have any plans to have more events after homecoming? Any different ideas for spirit weeks to keep the spirit going after HOCO?
S: I think something around Christmas time, something more than just a Christmas rally, would be cool. Maybe an event around Valentine’s Day and one right before spring break too. Especially in second semester, I want to have a sort of second homecoming where there’s a dance and decorations and stuff because I do notice that in second semester, there’s not really any fun dances or anything.
G: Do you have any criticisms about dress up spirit? And do you have any alternatives to dress up spirit days?
S: I think the most obvious criticism to dress up spirit days is that not everyone owns a lot of the clothing we’re asking for right off the bat. Like for multicultural week, I don’t own a single piece of Indian traditional clothing. I just have a nice suit. So I couldn’t do something like that if I wanted to. And it would be really expensive if I did want to participate, so I definitely think that for my spirit weeks, I want to make things that people won’t have to go out and pay for to get new clothing.
G: As part of the senior class council, you guys will also be planning for a prom. What plans do you have for that? And how would you raise money for events like prom?
S: In terms of raising money, I think the best way to do it is with fundraisers. And then in terms of prom, I don’t really have any ideas yet, or a theme or anything, but I think the best way to approach something like prom would be to get class council together and try to get their best ideas, then sort of have a vote. We can go around asking people okay, what kind of decorations do we want? Did you have in mind for things like this or that? But yeah, I don’t have a fully envisioned prom or anything yet.
G: I guess then, more broadly speaking, senior year is going to be every senior’s last year at Irvington. So how do you ensure that the last year is memorable for everyone?
S: I think that sort of ties back around to my whole entire point that I want to have more people included in all these events I want to hold. I want to have more people in class Council, I want to have people from diverse groups so that we have more input, and I want to make the events like homecoming and prom more appealing to more people. For example, we should make prom more than just a couples thing and add games and activities so that if you want to go with your friends to prom, you can. I want to make these events appealing to as many people as possible, so that it becomes as memorable for as many people as possible.
G: This is our final question that we ask all the candidates, but is there anything else you’d like your class and the student body to know about you?
S: I think the number one thing that I would like people to know about me is I’m not terribly strict or anything. I consider myself a pretty funny guy. I like to make people laugh a lot. But I also want to make sure that my whole entire team is serious about all our events, I don’t want the whole thing to just be something where we’re goofing off. So I want to be someone that people can laugh around and have fun around. That’s my goal if I’m elected class officer.